Now entering, Haunted Hollow, the land of monsters, where vampires, zombies, ghosts, werewolves, and frankensteins rule the night. This is the scene for the latest strategy game from 2K Games, and Firaxis Studios, the minds behind Sid Meier’s Civilization and XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Haunted Hollow is part turn based strategy, and part board game, as you get to control a collection of monsters in an attempt to capture an entire village. On each turn, you get a new room to add to your mansion, which opens up a new monster to send out on to the game board. It’s a battle to scare the residents of each of the 14 houses that compose the village.
Haunted Hollow really walks a tight rope in delivering intricate strategic elements, while balancing the gameplay to make it accessible to all ages. The theme is wonderfully inviting, and anyone can grasp the concept of trying to scare the whole town. There are all kinds of strategic elements at work for more advanced players beginning with the turn system. On each turn, you’re given a set number of fear points to use, with the ability to move, attack, or scare with those fear points. There’s a constant strategy of balancing scary buildings while battling your opponent’s monsters. As you scare villagers, they combine together to compose an angry mob to add another element to deal with on the game board.
There are numerous types of monsters at your disposal, and they all connect to the new room you get at the beginning of each turn. As you build up your mansion, you try to connect the same room types to open up more deluxe versions of the monsters, with three different power levels to unlock. There’s quite a bit going on in each turn, and those fear points are quite valuable as each player tries to manage them the best by creating new monsters, and maneuvering the game board. Fear points are so valuable, that the best way to play the game is to try to capture a neighborhood of houses to get an extra fear point each turn. The control of the houses can flip on each turn, and that’s why you also need to dispose of enemy monsters while you can. There are also special items to unlock as you level up your characters in each game, and they can help turn the tables.
Since it’s a turn based strategy game, you can play single player against the computer, pass & play on the same device, or online multiplayer through Game Center. The game lends itself very well for mobile turn based gameplay, as each game presents new challenges with the varying levels of strategy that is surprisingly accessible. There’s just a whole lot to like as Haunted Hollow creates a brand new board game experience, and it’s free to play for maximum involvement. The problem with the free to play structure is that you can buy new monsters to add to your collection, but then you would pay for an advantage over a friend trying to play for free. Another problem is that the game board is the same every time, and it’s not very big with just 14 houses to take control of. There’s a lack of depth despite the nuances of the gameplay, and it would be nice to see alternate villages.
Haunted Hollow (Free, Universal) is a fresh new strategic board game experience that fits very well with the online multiplayer turn based structure. The game does a great job of balancing strategic elements with a friendly set-up making it worth picking up for a good time.